TENENBAUM (Tamaroff), MORDECAI

TENENBAUM (Tamaroff), MORDECAI
TENENBAUM (Tamaroff), MORDECAI (1916–1943), resistance and ghetto fighter. Born in Warsaw, he went to tarbut hebrew schools and then studied Semitic languages at the Warsaw Oriental Institute. His linguistic skills would later help him pass as a non-Jew on the "Aryan" side of Warsaw. In 1935 he joined the Po'alei Zion youth movement Frayhayt . From 1938 he was a member of the central committee of He-Ḥalutz in Warsaw . He trained for kibbutz life and underwent military training in the movement. At the outbreak of World War II he went to Vilna, where he hoped to escape the Germans and immigrate to Palestine. Permits were limited and Tenenbaum gave them to others. He remained behind to help. He participated in the January 1, 1942, meeting at which abba kovner issued his proclamation of resistance. It spoke to Jewish youth, urging them to recognize the situation: "Jewish youth, do not believe those that are trying to deceive you. Out of 80,000 Jews in the 'Jerusalem of Lithuania' (Vilna) only 20,000 are left." The proclamation spelled out what was happening at Ponar, the killing field of Vilna: "All the Gestapo roads lead to Ponar, and Ponar means death." It foresaw the "Final Solution" three weeks before the wannsee conference : "Hitler plans to destroy all the Jews of Europe, and the Jews of Lithuania have been chosen as the first line." And it called for resistance: "We will not be led like sheep to the slaughter. True, we are weak and helpless, but the only response to the murderer is revolt\! Brothers\! It is better to die fighting like free men than to live at the mercy of the murderers. Arise\! Arise with your last breath\!" Tenenbaum had become active in the pioneer resistance movement under the Soviet regime and continued after the German occupation. He obtained forged papers and posed as a Tatar named Tamaroff. He went to Grodno and Bialystok to organize the movement. In March 1942, he returned to Warsaw, bringing with him important information as to what was happening elsewhere. In Vilna and the environs the killing of Jews had begun. Polish Jews were still ghettoized, systematic slaughter had not commenced. Tenenbaum was not quite believed by all, but confirmation was received from Lublin and news of the gassing at Chelmno. Together with itzhak zuckerman , he edited Yediot, a clandestine newspaper,   and also helped found the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB) in the summer of 1942, acquiring weapons and training recruits in the use of arms. In November 1942 he was sent to Bialystok, where he worked to set up a Jewish Fighting Organization within the ghetto underground. He attempted to reach Grodno but was shot by the Germans, who discovered his forged papers. Still he escaped, reached the only remaining ghetto in Grodno, and then returned to Bialystok, where he gained the support of Judenrat chairman Ephraim Baraz for resistance activities. With the help of Ẓevi Marsik, he founded the ghetto archive in Bialystok and kept a diary, Dappim min ha-Delekah (1948), thus uniting in his person two forms of resistance, armed and spiritual. As in Warsaw, Vilna, and other ghettos, armed resistance did not begin in Bialystok with the onset of deportations, which had begun in January. It occurred toward the end in a desperate last stand. Tenenbaum united all the underground forces and became their commander. A Communist, Daniel Moszkowicz, was his deputy. Leading the Bialystok Ghetto Revolt (August 16, 1943), his strategy was to break the German siege and enable as many Jews as possible to escape to the forest. It is said that he and his deputy committed suicide when his ammunition gave out after three days of fighting. Sporadic fighting continued for a month. The fighters of Bialystok invoked the memory of Musa Dagh, the stronghold in the Armenian resistance featured in the Franz Werfel novel and which served as an inspiration. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Klibansky, in: Yad Vashem Studies, 2 (1958), 295–330; idem, in: Yalkut Moreshet, 9 (1968), 58–70; Leksikon ha-Gevurah (1965), 175–7 (incl. bibl.). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust: Proceedings of the Conference on the Manifestation of Jewish Resistance (1971). (Nathan Eck / Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • BIALYSTOK — (Rus. Belostok), industrial city in N.E. Poland; latterly one of the principal Russian/Polish Jewish centers; incorporated into Russia between 1807 and 1921 and administered by the U.S.S.R. between 1939 and 1941, reverting to Poland in 1945.… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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